I’ve got a whole bunch of weight to lose. It’s clearly not something I’ve made a secret of, since I’m writing an entire blog about it. And it’s something my son knows about. We’ve talked about why daddy is exercising, and he’s heard me talk about how much weight I’ve lost. I want him to be aware of it, because I want to set a good example for him.
A few weeks ago, though, he said something about how he needed to lose weight. This was not something I wanted to hear – he’s in the 60th percentile for weight and the 99th percentile for height, and his pediatrician says he’s in great shape. He’s not overweight. And, most likely, he was just echoing what I’ve been saying because he wants to be like his daddy. But it sent chills down my spine. Because he does not need body image issues.
Am I overreacting? Possibly. But it’s made me reassess the way I talk about my weight loss. I’ve written multiple times about how I’m not on a diet, and how I’m changing my diet. And about how I’m working to make a permanent change in my health. What I hadn’t realized, though, was that my language was still focused on weight loss. It took my son to point that out.
Words are powerful things. They’re thoughts, cast into the air, looking for a home. Words can stop and start wars, move mountains, change and control minds. The pen, as they say, is mightier than the sword. But the pen is merely a tool, serving the needs of the words it writes. The things you say and the way you say them can and will control your thoughts and your attitudes. They will also shape the thoughts and the attitudes of the people around you.
So, regardless of what it is you’re trying to do – lose weight, get ready for a marathon, learn to code in C++, whatever – be very careful about how you talk about what you are doing. For example, I’m now working on talking about my goals in the context of getting healthy, and being able to do things with my son, and the benefits of the exercise I’m doing. Because I want to set a positive example for my son. I want him to learn that exercise is important because it keeps you healthy and gives you the ability to do things. And because I want him to know that he’s important – important enough to keep me working, keep my trying, so I can be a better dad.